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What Landlords Need to Know About Renters and Military Duty

United States Soldier Being Greeted by His Young Son As a Littlerock property owner, it’s important to understand some key disparities between renting to members of the military and other types of tenants. When renting to tenants who are members of the U.S. military, certain federal laws influence the way a property owner can legally conduct business. Regardless of whether it’s dealing with tenants who break their lease or are often absent for training, making sure the property is safe, or collecting late rental payments. Before renting to military members, you have to understand what the law says and how it may affect the landlord/tenant relationship. This can help you avoid violating your renter’s rights.

Breaking the Lease

Members of the U.S. military are covered by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which aims to safeguard active military personnel and their families from such financial and legal obligations. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) covers a lot of different situations, like an active member of the military who is renting a house. According to this federal law, landlords are required to allow a tenant to break a lease without penalty if certain terms are met.

As an illustration, if military personnel receive orders of transfer (deploy or induction) more than 35 miles from the property, a discharge, or a loss of life, they can legally break their lease. While honoring a military tenant’s request to break their lease can be challenging, by law, renters cannot be charged or their security or other deposits withheld for breaking a lease due to transfers or other service-related situations.

Training Absences

Active military members are often required to attend training at locations around the country. Depending on which branch of the military they are a member of and where they have been stationed, these trainings could be as short as two weeks or as long as a month or more. If a tenant notifies you that they will be gone for training, it is important to note that even an extended absence is not grounds for eviction or other legal action. As long as the tenant intends to return to the property and continues to fulfill the lease terms, a landlord must do the same.

Securing the Property

In the event of a protracted absence, Littlerock property managers may have fears about the security of their rental house. Vacant houses tend to attract numerous types of dilemmas, from vandals to break-ins and beyond. You can check on your property often to make sure everything is clear if you are nearby. But let’s say you’re not in a position to do so. In this regard, other options may help keep your property secure during your tenant’s absence, from security systems to hiring a property management company such as Real Property Management Traditions to keep track of your property for you.

Collecting Late Rental Payments

Another federal protection the law offers is the requirement to delay eviction proceedings for nonpayment of rent. If your tenant or one of their dependents is inhabiting the rental house during their active military service, and the rent is $3,851.03 per month or less, then the court is obliged to give the tenant at least 90 days to fix the problem. The SCRA doesn’t stop a landlord from serving an eviction notice, but it may stop you from taking action against a servicemember tenant or their dependents.

Delayed Civil Court Actions

Lastly, the SCRA lets active military members ask for a stay on any civil court actions that may be brought against them. If you have a legal dispute with your military tenant, the law states that they may be able to delay that action while on active duty. Also, the standard statute of limitations does not implement while a military renter is on active duty. This can significantly change the anticipated legal timelines for tenant/landlord disputes, so it’s significant to bear that in mind should any argument lead to a court filing.

Renting to active military tenants requires both time and awareness of the law. For many rental property owners who are naive to the law, there are several methods to find themselves in legal trouble. However, engaging with Real Property Management Traditions can help. Our team of Littlerock property managers has experience leasing properties to military tenants and understands all related federal, state, and local laws. With our aid, you can better protect your valuable investment and evade legal complications for you and your tenant. Contact us today for more information.


Originally published on Dec 27, 2019

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